Dressing Table Redux
My grandmother's dressing table had been painted a creamy yellow decades ago; by the time she moved to Virginia and gave it to me, the paint job had seen much better days. And yet - it sat in my bedroom, holding up jewellery, library books, and an occassional cat for well over a year while I figured out what to do with it.
Ultimately, I decided to paint it red.
I found the paint in the rejected paint cart at Lowes when I was picking up the paint for my guest bathroom. I always go through the cart because - hey! cheap paint - and to see what people are rejecting.
(The hot colors these days are in brown-yellow-taupes, apparently).
It was called "flame" and it felt full. For fifty cents, that was a bargain. I'd been thinking about painting the details in my kitchen red, so it was a no brainer. I took it home.
This side project was a side project to my primary side project (updating my guest bathroom), so it took me two weeks to complete. I had little fear: the table wasn't particularly valuable to begin with.
I sanded and cleaned the table, trying to even out the surfaces. I tightened some bolts, and started thinking about the one big problem with the table - there was an opening for a drawer in the front of the table, but the drawer itself had disintegrated well over a decade ago. I'd been hanging fabric through the hole, but that was neither elegant or appropriate.
The flame paint was ... surprisingly magenta. I'm pretty sure that's why that color was rejected. It looked magenta all the while I was painting it on. Then it looked vaguely orange-ish. And later, deep red. And then later, almost pink. Clearly, I was going to have to place the table carefully to achieve the right color.
The first coat of paint went on while I was watching the Super Bowl. That explains a few of the really egregious drips I didn't catch down the backside of the legs. A few days later, I cleaned the surface again, and applied a second coat. It looked more red than magenta in various lights, for which I was quite pleased.
I now had to make a decision about how I was going to handle the missing door. I rejected the ideas of making a new drawer (time and tools) and upholstering the front (would have looked weird) almost immediately. That left making a faux drawer. I put down some thin pieces of craft wood that I had in my garage, glued and staple gunned them down, and wasn't pleased with the result. It was neither panelly nor moderne. Each piece of wood was bowing just enough to be noticiblely not planar. Plus, the look didn't seem finished. I needed a better solution.
A few days later, when I was picking up new off-white paint to match the "builder's masterpiece" paint the house had originally been painted in, I found my solution: bullet molding - square wood ornaments that you frequently see in the corners of doorframes and the like. The come in 4x4, 4.5x4.5, and 5x5 sizes (I got the larger ones), and they're relatively cheap (I got mine for 3 bucks apiece).
I took them home, lined them up on the face of the table and made sure they'd cover the crappy thin layer of wood I had already applied, and would look nice, once finished.
I wood-glued three squares together, staple gunned them together on the backsides, and then clamped them together so the glue would set up tightly.
Two days later, I unclamped everything, and glued the three square faux-drawer front to the thin layer of craft wood there, and clamped it down. I placed the clamps on the line where each block was glued to another, and let it set. This resulted in a slightly bowed "drawer front" - when I released the clamps, the outer edges of front had bowed up slightly.
It enhanced the dimensionality, added a little backing shadow, and I like to tell myself, made it more drawer-like (which is more obvious in person than in photographs, it seems). I sanded the rough edges of the bullet molding, and painted it red.
As I sat back and looked at the table, it looked really good in my living room. I was pretty sure it was going to stay there at this point - I needed a place to put my geraniums, and it gave the room that punch of red it had been lacking since I turned a piece of red embroidered cottony silk that had been hanging over my grandmother's rattan screen into curtains for my office.
I polyurethened the top and sides of the table, and then gave a light coat to the legs of the table. (When they say well-ventilated, they mean well-ventilated. As with the rest of this project, I did it in my living room, and within 2 minutes, I was welcoming the 30 degree air flooding into my house via the open sliding glass doors. Once that was dry, I could set the table in place in front of the sliding glass doors and place the geraniums there.
Unfortunately, that's left a hole in my bedroom. I'm going to have to move the children's dresser that I also got from my grandmother out of the garage where it's serving as a tool and paint storage center, sand it, repair it (there's a drawer that's mostly fallen apart, hinges to fix, etc), prep it, and paint it. Maybe in the spring, when I can do most of the work in my garage.